TOKYO – A companion robot designed to help human overcome loneliness was unveiled in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The “Lovot,” a combination of love and robot, uses emotional robotics that its creators say stirs “people’s feelings, through the ways that the robots look, feel and behave.”
The prototype was presented at a media conference by Kaname Hayashi, one of the makers of the Android interactive Pepper robot.
Hayashi said his new invention, set to go on sale in 2019, emulates popular robots like BB8 (Star Wars saga) and the cat from Doraemon.
Lovot was made with an aim of awakening feelings of love and creating an emotional bond with its owner, he said.
Lovot is shy when it meets someone for the first time, is able to recognize frequent voices and loves the show of affection and with the communication levels of a baby or a pet, according to its creators.
It has a comforting presence but won’t work for people.
Lovot has sensors in 20 places that prevent it from crashing or falling. It has a temperature similar to that of a human being.
It can also make sounds through artificial vocal cords and its eyes allow Lovot to fix its gaze, blink and recognize the speakers’ emotions.
Lovot does not have as many functions as Pepper, the popular humanoid developed by a team led by Hayashi.
Pepper was brought into the market as the first robot that could communicate and interpret human emotions and is now used in Japan as an assistant in shops.
After finishing the Pepper project and founding his company, Groove X, Hayashi worked for three years on the development of a technology that meets the emotional needs of people.
He said Lovot can remain close to its owner and is designed to function like a family robot.
Weighing about three kilograms, Lovot moves about on wheels at a speed of two to three kilometers per hour.
It is capable of making a house map and can return to its nest or charging station when it runs out of power.
Available for pre-order from Dec. 18 onwards, the company Groove X expects to bring Lovot into market in fall of 2019, with two units of robot for every sale.
The price of each pair will be around €4,600 (around $5,228.61) while those who want a single Lovot, will have to wait till 2020, when it will be sold at some €2,700.
The owner will have to pay a monthly maintenance charge as well.
Although it will be commercialized as company machine, the integral camera allows Lovot to send images of the house to the mobile phone of the owner and can also perform surveillance functions.